US, NATO Deny Burning Koran

Afghans recently protested an alleged incident in which ‘foreign soldiers’ burned a Quran during a raid.  NATO and US force representatives denied that any such incident occurred, instead calling it a Taliban rumor.

Perhaps more interesting were the actions the protestors took.  While a few Americans claim that US actions are convincing the Muslim world that Americans are on a Christian ‘crusade,’ the protestors repeated the more common accusation: 

“Death to America. Down with Israel,” chanted one man at the rally, which was organised mainly by university students.

Obviously, neither Israel nor the Palestinian situation has anything to do with foreign forces in Afghanistan, nor with any treatment of the Koran.  But when such protests occur, Islamic protestors do not protest the ‘American Christian crusade;’ instead, they take the opportunity to connect the US with the Jewish state of Israel.  As is frequently shown on the mainstream news, Islamic protests are far more likely to accuse America as a nation of Zionism than of crusade.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that the US should take actions to restrict the freedoms of its Jewish citizens or soldiers of the Jewish faith.  There is a frequently quoted cliche that

your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.

The human liberty of belief, however, does not stop where another person’s offense begins.  The sensitivities of another do not dictate an individual’s natural rights.

Are there times where discretion–even officially mandated discretion–may be a military necessity?  Certainly.  But those situations should be necessarily rare.

The US, both as a nation and as a military, can do much for future prosperity if it encourages and protects the human liberty of religious freedom.  Regrettably, the focus is often more on not offending local religious sentiment, rather than encouraging religious freedom.  While potentially effective, the technique is strategically short-sighted.

Unfortunately, the result is that even some nations that US military troops are defending with their lives fail to grant their citizens even the most basic of religious freedoms.

Also reported at the Los Angeles Times and the British Telegraph.